This sounds like something out of every fifth fake Facebook warning post you see from your relatives, but Google really is cleaning up unused accounts without much warning, and this is causing some major problems.
The warnings that do come get shot to the account’s backup email address, which if it wasn’t configured to go to you, you’ll never see.
If you’ll notice, on most of Google’s product Terms of Service there’s an announcement posted that Google may remove your account after nine months of inactivity. It seems they’re finally doing this.
The major issue for most is when the account is deleted, you can’t sign up for a new account with that name and email address.
For most people this doesn’t really make a difference – you don’t use an account, chances are you don’t need it out there, but when the account is gone everything that’s with it is gone as well. So if you’ve been holding onto a dead friend’s account, all their digital life may just disappear and may not be recoverable.
For those with an inactive account used for business or something that barely gets looked at, that email address will be tied up in limbo until you get it handled with Google support.
To fend this off, you can log into the account occasionally, tie it to a regular account you do check, or back it all up to your machine using Google Takeout which should grab everything Google ever knew about the account (pictures, posts, location history, map entries, etc etc etc).
With Google storing an average of 15GB of people’s information for free these days, plus whatever that recent flood of data from Google Photos was, I guess the Google storage complexes are starting to fill up and they’ve had to do some housekeeping for the first time in eleven years of storing mass amounts of data for free.